Step inside The Electric Garage

by Alan Yonan Jr.| Sept. 25, 2021

Welcome to The Electric Garage! Hawaiian Electric is launching this new feature to help customers navigate Hawaii’s evolving transportation landscape where electricity is increasingly being used to power our cars, buses and other modes of transport. If we’re going to meet the state’s goal of becoming carbon net-negative by 2045, electrifying ground transportation needs to be front and center.

Hawaii’s off to a solid start and we want to make sure we keep our foot on the accelerator. We’re looking at The Electric Garage — with lively blogs, videos, tips and other useful resources — as a way to engage with customers and demystify the world of electric vehicles, or EVs. Think of The Electric Garage as the vehicular version of The Electric Kitchen. The Electric Kitchen’s roots go back nearly a century to a time when electric appliances were a novelty, and Hawaiian Electric offered folks some guidance in using new-fangled machines like toasters and refrigerators.

It wasn’t long ago that electric cars were somewhat of a curiosity in Hawaii. Remember when the first EVs began appearing about a decade ago? You would occasionally spot a Nissan Leaf here or a Mitsubishi i-MiEV there. There were also a few Chevy Volts around, but that was about it. With just over 500 EVs registered statewide by the end of 2011 they were a pretty rare sight.

These days, on the two-mile drive from my house to Safeway, it’s not unusual for me to see a half dozen or more EVs. And that’s probably an undercount. With all the new makes and models out there it’s not always immediately apparent whether the car I’m looking at is an EV or not. That’s when I find myself craning my neck to see if the car has a tailpipe.

There are now more than 16,000 EVs registered in Hawaii. The Hawaii Auto Dealers Association estimates that from January through June this year sales of EVs and plug-in hybrids represented 7.6% of market share statewide, ranking the Aloha State the second highest nationally after California. We are definitely beyond the “early adopter” stage — but we still have a long way to go before EVs outnumber gas-powered vehicles on our roadways.

There will be some hurdles — or “speed bumps” — as Hawaii makes the transition to electrified transportation. I’ll throw my personal situation out there as a case in point.

I live in a townhouse with a designated parking spot that is about 25 yards from my front door. I have solar PV panels that provide more than enough electricity for my family. I would love to buy an EV so I can convert some of the clean kilowatts being generated on my rooftop into clean transportation.

The problem is getting those electrons from my house to the parking spot. Do I hire a contractor to dig a trench and lay a power line? Do I buy a high-capacity portable battery pack, charge it in the house, and wheel it to where my EV would be parked?

There are definitely others in the same situation. Or the issue may be much simpler, like whether a new EV owner charging at home should rely on a 110-volt trickle charger or opt for installing a 220-volt Level 2 charger.

The Electric Garage looks forward to tackling these kinds of topics and becoming a trusted resource for folks wanting to take the EV plunge — and even those who’ve already jumped in.

Alan Yonan Jr. a senior communications specialist at Hawaiian Electric Company.

Our vision is to deliver cost-effective, clean, reliable, and innovative energy services to our customers.